Do you remember the first time you saw your child? Maybe it was in a hospital bed. Or maybe it was months before in a black and white sonogram. For me, it was one year ago today. And it was in the form of a colorful PDF from China.
I glance at my watch. Five minutes to go. Our matchmaker, Diane, is going to call at 7:00 PM CST. I do the math again. CST is indeed one hour behind. The clock reads 7:56 PM. I take a deep breath. My husband squeezes my hand. Then the phone rings.
It’s just a preliminary conversation. What are our interests, what are we looking for, what are we open to—the same sort of questions I answered four years before on Match.com. Diane walks us through the process. We are open, which is good, so we will likely have a match in 3–6 months. That seems like a good time frame. Much faster than finding my husband on Match.com. I am impressed.
36 hours later Diane calls again. She has the file of a 19-month-old boy and she thinks we should have a look. PING! The inbox alerts me to our potential son’s arrival. We hover over our laptop, open the file and…. He is cute. Nice looking. Sweet face. Overall? He looks like a little boy from China.
I think back to how my husband and I met. After months of visiting profile after profile on Match.com, and some rather disastrous if not hilarious dates, I stumbled upon my husband’s profile. Who could tell from a series of photos and a few brief questions if someone could be a potential spouse. And yet…
Now we have 48 hours to make a decision. I keep looking at our potential son’s photo. I want to feel a connection. I want to know in my heart that he is “the one.” But at the same time, what if something happens? What if our dossier is flagged, or the Chinese government closes adoptions, or there is something worrisome in my potential son’s file.
Through the next few weeks we send flurries of emails back and forth. Like Match.com, we exchange words about ourselves, our likes and dislikes, what we hope for the future. We track our paperwork through the maze of Chinese bureaucracy, desperately trying to set up our “first date” with our son.
Three months later the day comes. In a small government office building in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province China. Months of planning and paperwork, sleepless nights, daydreaming about the future and agonizing over the rough road our son might face all have led to this one moment.
He sits there, alone on the couch. He is cute. Nice looking. Sweet face. Overall? He looks like a little boy from China who is absolutely terrified. I want so immensely to feel a connection. That this is indeed my son who has been waiting for us half a world away. But in reality?
In reality, our first date was at Patsy’s Pizzeria in the West Village. I remember my husband wore a blue button down shirt that brought out his eyes. One slice led to another and then onto coffee across the street. It was not a “coup de foudre” as the french say. There was no bolt of lightening that this man was “the one.” Rather it was a slow build. An understanding that there was something more here. That our lives were meant to be intertwined.
And back in China? One day led to another and then another. Gradually I began to feel more like his mother and Jack began to feel more like my son. Each day the limbs of our family tree grow stronger. Like we were always somehow, someway, meant to be.
About the Author: Jennifer Jones is an adoptive mother, playwright, storyteller, and solo performer. She frequently blogs about her adoption experience at Letters to Jack, where this was originally published. You can also find her on Twitter.